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Srimad-Bhagavad-Gita, English translation and commentary by Swami Swarupananda, [1909], at

p. 179


Arjuna said:

1. What is that Brahman, what is Adhyâtma, what is Karma, O best of Purushas? What is called Adhibhuta, and what Adhidaiva?

p. 180

2. Who, and in what way, is Adhiyajna here in this body, O destroyer of Madhu? And how art Thou known at the time of death, by the self-controlled?

The Blessed Lord said:

3. The Imperishable is the Supreme Brahman. Its dwelling in each individual body is called Adhyâtma; the offering in sacrifice which causes the genesis and support of beings, is called Karma. 3

p. 181

4. The perishable adjunct is the Adhibhuta, and the Indweller is the Adhidaivata; I alone am the Adhiyajna here in this body, O best of the embodied. 4

p. 182

5. And he, who at the time of death, meditating on Me alone, goes forth, leaving the body, attains My Being: there is no doubt about this.

6. Remembering whatever object, at the end, he leaves the body, that alone is reached by him, O son of Kunti, (because) of his constant thought of that object. 6

p. 183

7. Therefore, at all times, constantly remember Me, and fight. With mind and intellect absorbed, in Me, thou shalt doubtless come to Me. 7

8. With the mind not moving towards anything else, made steadfast by the method of habitual meditation, and dwelling on the Supreme, Resplendent Purusha, O son of Prithâ, one goes to Him. 8

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9-10. The Omniscient, the Ancient, the Overruler, minuter than an atom, the Sustainer of all, of form inconceivable, self-luminous like the sun, and beyond the darkness of Mâyâ—he who meditates on Him thus, at the time of death, full of devotion, with the mind unmoving, and

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also by the power of Yoga, fixing the whole Prâna betwixt the eye-brows, he goes to that Supreme, Resplendent Purusha. 9

11. What the knowers of the Veda speak of as Imperishable, what the self-controlled (Sannyâsins), freed from attachment enter, and to gain which goal they

p. 186

live the life of a Brahmachârin, that I shall declare unto thee in brief. 11

12-13. Controlling all the senses, confining the mind in the heart, drawing the Prâna into the head, occupied in the practice of concentration, uttering the one-syllabled "Om"—the Brahman, and meditating on Me;—he who so departs, leaving the body, attains the Supreme Goal.

p. 187

14. I am easily attainable by that ever-steadfast Yogin who remembers Me constantly and daily, with a single mind, O son of Prithâ.

15. Reaching the highest perfection, and having attained Me, the great-souled ones are no more subject to re-birth—which is the home of pain, and ephemeral. 15

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16. All the worlds, O Arjuna, including the realm of Brahmâ, are subject to return, but after attaining Me, O son of Kunti, there is no re-birth. 16

17. They who know (the true measure of) day and night, know the day of Brahmâ, which ends in a thousand Yugas, and the night which (also) ends in a thousand Yugas. 17

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18. At the approach of (Brahmâ's) day, all manifestations proceed from the unmanifested state; at the approach of night, they merge verily into that alone, which is called the unmanifested.

19. The very same multitude of beings (that existed in the preceding day of Brahmâ), being born again and again, merge, in spite of themselves, O son of Prithâ, (into the unmanifested), at the approach of night, and re-manifest at the approach of day. 19

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20. But beyond this unmanifested, there is that other Unmanifested, Eternal Existence—That which is not destroyed at the destruction of all beings. 20

21. What has been called Unmanifested and Imperishable, has been described as the Goal Supreme. That is My highest state, having attained which, there is no return.

p. 191

22. And that Supreme Purusha is attainable, O son of Prithâ, by whole-souled devotion to Him alone, in Whom all beings dwell, and by Whom all this is pervaded.

23. Now I shall tell thee, O bull of the Bhâratas, of the time (path) travelling in which, the Yogis return, (and again of that, taking which) they do not return.

p. 192

24. Fire, flame, day-time, the bright fortnight, the six months of the Northern passage of the sun, taking this path, the knowers of Brahman go to Brahman.

25. Smoke, night-time, the dark fortnight, the six months of the Southern passage of the sun—taking this path the Yogi, attaining the lunar light, returns. 25

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26. Truly are these bright and dark paths of the world considered eternal: one leads to non-return; by the other, one returns. 26

27. No Yogi, O son of Prithâ, is deluded after knowing these paths. Therefore, O Arjuna, be thou steadfast in Yoga, at all times. 27

p. 196

28. Whatever meritorious effect is declared (in the Scriptures) to accrue from (the study of) the Vedas, (the performance of) Yajnas, (the practice of) austerities and gifts,—above all this rises the Yogi, having known this, and attains to the primeval, supreme Abode. 28

The end of the eighth chapter designated, The Way to the Imperishable Brahman.


180:3 Offering in sacrifice—includes here all virtuous works.

Karma: Cf. III. 14, 15.

181:4 Adhibhuta: that perishable adjunct which is different from, and yet depends for its existence on the self-conscious principle, i.e., everything material, everything that has birth.

Adhidaivata: The universal Self in Its subtle aspect: the Centre from which all living beings have their sense-power.

Adhiyajna: the presiding deity of sacrifice,—Vishnu.

182:6 Constant thought: the idea is, that the most prominent thought of one's life occupies the mind at the time of death. One cannot get rid of it, even as one cannot get rid of a disagreeable thought-image in a dream; so the character of the body to be next attained by one is determined accordingly, i.e., by the final thought.

183:7 Remember Me and fight: Do thou constantly keep thy mind fixed on Me and at the same time perform thy Swadharma, as befits a Kshatriya; and thus thou shalt attain purification of the heart.

183:8 Method—Yoga.

Resplendent—the Being in the solar orb, same as Adhidaivata, of the fourth sloka.

185:9 Self-luminous. Known by no agency like the understanding, the mind or the senses, but by Self alone.

Power of Yoga—which comes by the constant practice of Samâdhi.

Prâna: the vital current.

Fixing the whole Prâna—means, concentrating the whole will and self-consciousness.

186:11 Brahmachârin—a religious student who takes the vow of continence etc.; every moment of this stage is one of hard discipline and asceticism.

Cf. Kathopanishad, II. 14.

187:15 Ephemeral: non-eternal, of an ever-changing nature.

188:16 Subject to return—because limited by time.

188:17 Day and night—mean evolution and involution of the whole universe respectively.

189:19 Being born . . . themselves: They repeatedly come forth and dissolve, being forced by the effects of their own Karma.

190:20 This unmanifested—which being the seed of the manifested, is Avidyâ itself.

192:25 It is difficult to decide the true significance of these two verses (24 & 25). Some are inclined to think that each of the steps means a sphere; while others, a state of consciousness. Still others think, that the series beginning with fire means developing states of illumination and renunciation, and that beginning with smoke, increasing states of ignorance and attachment. p. 193

The two paths, Devayâna and Pitriyâna, by which the souls of the dead are supposed to travel to the other world according to their deserts are mentioned in the Upanishads, prominently in the Chhândogya, V. x. I, 2. Bâdarâyana discusses these passages in the Brahma Sutras, IV. ii. 18-21. But an interesting light has been thrown upon the question by the late Mr. Tilak's theory of the Arctic home of the ancestors of the Aryan race. He has also dealt with his subject specially, in a paper of great value which appeared in Prabuddha Bharata (Vol. IX. p. 160). Considering the importance of the doctrine and the excellent way in which it has been elucidated by Mr. Tilak, we shall briefly note below the main heads of his argument.

The words Pitriyâna and Devayâna are used many times in the Rigveda. But the distinction made in the Upanishads about the soul's path, according as a man died during the dark or the bright half of the year, was unknown to the bards of the Rigveda, who held the view that the soul of a man always travelled by the Pitriyâna road, whatever the time of his death. It is therefore clear that the doctrine of the Upanishads was a later development, probably evolved after physical light and darkness had come to be connected with moral good and evil and the dual character of the world was established. Now, if along with this we consider that death during the Southern passage of the sun was regarded as inauspicious from the p. 194 Arctic times, we can see how the distinction arose between the paths of a man's soul according as he died in the dark or the bright part of the year.

As to the series of steps in each path, since Agni was believed to be the only leader of the soul on its path, and both paths ended with the passages of the sun, the starting and halting points thus settled, it was not difficult to fill in the intermediate steps. The dual character of the world is manifested in Agni as flame and smoke. The flame was therefore the starting point of one path and smoke, of the other. Day and night, increasing and decreasing moon, Northern and Southern passages of the sun came next in natural order. The number of steps can easily be increased, and as a matter of fact has been increased in the Kaushitaki and some other Upanishads, on the same general principle.

Another point in this connection may be noted. There is nothing in the second or Pitriyâna path to correspond with Agni, in the first. We must therefore either reduce the number of steps in the first path by taking the words "fire" and "flame" in appositional relation and translate the same as "fire, that is flame," or increase the steps in the second by adding "fire" as one.

195:26 The paths are eternal, because Samsâra is eternal.

195:27 Knowing that one of the paths leads to Samsâra and the other to Moksha, the Yogi takes up the one leading to illumination and rejects the other

196:28 This—the truth imparted by the Lord in answer to the questions of Arjuna at the beginning of the present chapter.

Next: Ninth Chapter. The Way of Kingly Knowledge and the Kingly Secret